Stephen L. Morrell, MD

Dr. Stephen L. Morrell, a board-certified physician at Tanner Clinic Kaysville, chose the specialty of family medicine because the discipline “encompasses the whole person.”

Dr. Morrell offers general well care and counseling about exercise, diet and mental health issues. “We try to keep you healthy,” he said, “rather than making you healthy again.”

The Brigham City, Utah, native graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.S. in Exercise Science. He moved to the University of Kansas School of Medicine, attending campuses in Wichita and Kansas City, to earn his M.D.

Dr. Morrell returned to Utah to complete his residency with the Family Practice Residency Program at St. Mark’s Health Care Foundation in Salt Lake City. Dr. Morrell’s brother, Dr. Glen Morrell, is a general surgeon at Tanner Clinic.

Dr. Morrell remains active in volunteering, a habit he started as a college student. He’s served with doping control for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and in such duties as recreation assistant at Utah State Hospital. Currently, he volunteers at Davis Volunteer Medical Clinic in Clearfield and supervises Varsity Scouts. He is very active in church service.

Dr. Morrell is married with five children. When he had more time, the physician enjoyed painting, as well as singing and playing the trumpet. Currently, he tries to find time for photography, racquetball and spending as much time as possible with his wife and family.

What Patients Say About Dr. Morrell

“I have been patient of Dr. Stephen Morrell for just over a year and have been very impressed. I have had trouble sleeping for years, and he found a medication that has worked perfectly for me. I am so happy that I am finally sleeping well! It has made such a huge difference for me.” – Harrison Family, Google, November 2017

“Dr. Morrell was very friendly by being open for my input and ideas. He was quick to respond with thoughtful answers. It was great that he collaborated with me on my options for care.” – In-clinic comment card, June, 2015

“Just wanted to say a big thank you to Dr Stephen Morrell. He is truly an amazing man who has concern and cares for his patients. I have been to see him for a little while now and there hasn’t been one time that he has made me feel unimportant. Thank you, Dr Morrell, for your love and understanding. I truly appreciate it and will highly recommend you to my friends!”   —  Audry on Facebook, Jan. 24, 2015

“Dr. Stephen Morrell has been our family doctor for several years now, and he is exceptional. Recently our daughter had been in the ER two times for abdominal pain and after a CT scan and ultrasound was sent home both times with no help or advice. We took her to Dr. Morrell and upon listening to her symptoms, he got her in for a colonoscopy which ultimately lead to the discovery and removal of an appendix that had ruptured and sealed itself off, creating an abscess. This could have been a very serious situation had he not been persistent in getting her properly diagnosed. Dr. Morrell is not only gentle, caring and compassionate, but he is a true expert in his field. I would — and DO — highly recommend him to anyone looking for a family doctor.”   —  Karen on, April 9, 2014

“Dr. Stephen Morrell is an amazing, intelligent and insightful doctor. … I have seen many doctors, but have never had this good of a relationship. Plus he has an awesome nurse.”   —  In-clinic review card, Michelle of Layton, March 21, 2014

“The many years I’ve been going to Dr. Morrell, I have been impressed with his concern for me. He always takes time to help me with my problems. I really like him, and he seems to know how to help me.”   —  In-clinic review card, Arvil of Kaysville, March 10, 2014

Depression May Show Itself in Poor Sleep, Low Energy

Dr. Stephen Morrell remembers a patient who came to his office only because his parents had insisted.

The man had been mopey and tired, getting little sleep and had absolutely no desire to get off the couch.

“He thought he was just getting out of shape or getting old and just blew it off,” said Dr. Morrell, a family practice physician at Tanner Clinic Kaysville.

That is, until his parents insisted.

The man told Dr. Morrell that he’d had the symptoms for a few months, since he’d been divorced. His parents thought it had been much longer, up to two years.

The patient learned he’d been roughed up and destabilized by depression; he is now working with Dr. Morrell to regain balance in his life.

“But you wonder,”adds Dr. Morrell, “how much depression played into his divorce.”

These days, family medicine doctors are the first line of defense in combating depression. Such patients, said Dr. Morrell, make up a good part of his practice.

Patients trust their family doctors, not the unknown of a psychiatrist. And today’s medicines are tested and effective, said Dr. Morrell. Most depression is treatable, he says, and family doctors “can do a lot of good and take care of the patient before they get to that point where they need to see a psychiatrist.”

Depression is more than ‘feeling sad’

As a society, we’re more aware of depression and its symptoms than ever before. But many people don’t recognize that depression is more than being down in the dumps. Dr. Morrell sees patients who complain of sleeping poorly or losing focus. They’re tired, anxious, feeling guilty; their energy is low and their motivation is zero. These are traits that many patients attribute to laziness or eating poorly. “A lot of times,” he adds, “they’ll come in because someone else has pointed (their behavior) out to them.”

Some depression is the result of a hormonal imbalance or a lack of serotonin. However, the family physician credits much of the increase in depression to outside influences.

People live amid constant stress, he said. They’re trying to make ends meet in a shaky economy. Add to that marital difficulties and the stresses of raising kids, he said, “and it just wears people down over time.”

Physical causes

Dr. Morrell helps talk patients through a prevalent and unspoken perception that a depressed person is weak or simply not trying hard enough.

When an individual is diagnosed with asthma or diabetes, he said, “there’s a legitimacy to that. Patients aren’t embarrassed to talk about it.”

What many don’t understand, he said, is that depression is a physical response, aggravated by hormonal changes, life events, genetics or imbalances in such brain chemicals as neurotransmitters.

Chronic depression ‘under the surface’

Depression often comes down to two types: situational and chronic.

Situational depression is the loss of functionality and motivation caused by traumatic life events. “I see patients who are doing pretty well and on top of things,” said Dr. Morrell, “and then their spouse dies, or their dad dies, and they just spiral out of control.” In these cases, he said, antidepressant medicines can help, but counseling — and passage of time — is often more effective.

Then there’s depression that time doesn’t heal so readily.

Depression in these patients, he said, has been “under the surface for a long time. They either reach a crisis point or a loved one says, ‘You need to see a doctor.’”

Chronic depression, he adds, “starts very insidiously. It’s ‘I have a hard time getting up in the mornings’ or ‘I used to enjoy playing basketball with my buddies.’ Before they know it, they’re knee-deep in it.”

The great majority of depression, situation or chronic, adds Dr. Morrell, can be treated with a visit to a doctor you trust.


Can Fatigue Be a Symptom of Something Else?

Many patients come in to see Dr. Stephen Morrell with a complaint that’s humdrum, but also potentially debilitating: Fatigue.

“Fatigue is a very common thing we see,” said Dr. Morrell, a family practice physician at Tanner Clinic Kaysville. “I hear, ‘I’m tired,’ or ‘I’m just rundown all the time.’”fatiqued-man His initial  consultation  with  the patient may  reveal other  symptoms. Often,  the  patient has  had  trouble  sleeping or is  disinterested. This  can present “a  picture  of  depression.” Many  times, he adds, “It  never occurs to  them  they’re depressed.”

For patients suffering from fatigue, the first rule of treatment is to rule out other physical causes, such as thyroid, anemia, diabetes, or testosterone and hormonal problems — all of which can cause fatigue.

A discussion about depression and its symptoms allows Dr. Morrell to present alternatives to the sleep aids sought by many patients. If he suspects depression, he may prescribe antidepressant medicine because, he said, “if we get the depression under control, the sleep often gets better.”

The physician also tries to determine if the patient if eating right and exercising. Unfortunately, he said, “very few people who come in because they’re tired are actually exercising or eating right.”

— Tanner Clinic staff